March 31, 2003

15 - 2. The Cubs are on fire. Corey Patterson has 2 homers and 7 RBIs.
Cubs are up 10 - 2, in the bottom of the 6th against the NY Mets. The Cubs have hammered Glavine and Bacsik for 12 hits.

World Series - here we come!
picture of batman and nightwing

These 2 action figures are suppose to be released this summer. Are they just not the coolest looking Batman and Nightwing figures you've ever seen (assuming, of course, that you go looking for things like that). I'm planning on an early birthday gift for myself.

Stuff like this totally geek's me out. Its like getting SW: Episode II on DVD and staying up late to watch Obi-Wan and Jango Fett battle it out.
Yahoo! Game Channel - its a beautiful thing. Its like the poor-man's radio, but at least I can keep up on baseball games and the NCAA tournament while at work. I really think its made me more of a baseball fan. I "watch" more Cubs' games during the season.
Emma's got her first baby-sign down. "Fan" Its the same one that Ian learned first. I expect in a few months we'll have to keep turning them on - that's what Ian always wanted when he learned the sign for fan and it was warm enough to warrant their use.

Don't think Ian learned it this early though. Emma is only 7 months old.

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More people should be watching Boomtown on NBC. My understanding is that its not doing well in the ratings, despite all the positive critical acclaim that has been bestowed upon it. The show consistently impresses me with all aspects of its production. The writing is to notch, the acting professional and dead-on, the direction and story-telling techniques are inventive and engaging. Its just a damn good show.

Take last night's show for example. The crux of the show was really worn out cliche when it comes to crime/police dramas: child abuse. The show didn't bring a new approach to telling the story per say, instead the writing and acting were able to engage the viewer in a manner that was new. The characters became real - not just abstracts of fiction. I sensed their pain. Understood their frustrations. I was emotionally envovled with the characters and they events they were living. For a television show to accomplish this is very difficult for a hardened cynic like myself. Boomtown does it consistently week-in and week-out.

March 28, 2003

Does anyone read Superfudge and The Hardy Boys anymore? new kids book
Second weekend of big basketball ahead of us. Heather and I love the NCAA tournament. We used to have competition between the two of us picking the brackets - the winner would get to buy something special, or be free of some chore for a week. For the last two years, however, we've done something else. I run a pool at work, and the winner gets to pick a item off a menu of baked items that Heather will provide for them. Heather really seems to enjoy it - I know the people at work do. Heather's reached a level of baking divinity in my office.

This year my chances of winning look pretty good. Problem is, if I win, then I'll have to share with everyone at work.

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Emma is this close to walking. Its amazing. She pull herself up like a pro and can 'furniture-surf' very quickly. She's even started trying to stand up without holding onto anything as well. Its scarey. Emma is progressing so quickly. I guess the incentive of keeping up with Ian is pushing her right along.

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I've been reading Green Lantern: The Power of Ion and really enjoy it. The trade paperback collects 5 or 6 issues of DC Comics' Green Lantern monthly comic magazine. Winick's writing is very engaging and the art has been strong, with a few exceptions when fill-in artists took over an issue. GL has always been one of my favorite superheros and I do enjoy reading stories featureing him. However, I don't think its enough for me to pick up the comic on a monthly basis. Besides not having room in the comic budget for something like this, I don't think I really need to read stories about GL every month. I think trade paperbacks collecting complete stories the better route. This way I can pick and choose stories that seem appealing and I get a complete story in one book. Plus, it usually cheaper, when you the calculate cost per page, to buy the trade paperback instead of each individual comic issue.
This article is interesting. While I think the parrells and comparisons that the writer tries to create between Hitler and W are a bit strained, it is interesting to see how the writer tries to make connections.
France Insists It Wants U.S. to Win War
"PARIS - France's government angrily insisted on Friday that it hopes U.S.-led forces win the war in Iraq, signaling fear in Paris that its image as an untrustworthy friend could seriously damage long-term relations with Washington. "

So make up your mind. Are we scummy, baby-killing nazis or are we fighting to oust a represive government and make a little money? Are you against the US lead war or for the US lead war? You can't have it both ways.
Now this is just creepy: US Congress recommends fasting, prayer in wars on Iraq, terror

What next? Is W gonna write his own version of the bible? Start his own little church?

Something like this only plays into the hands of those who claim that the US/British invasion of Iraq is an attack on Islam. Chrisitians versus Muslims. You get more people believing that and this whole situation will get very messy.

March 27, 2003

If this song doesn't put a spring in your step, I'd check to see if you have a pulse.
Haven't decided if this is depressing or inspirational: check it out

March 26, 2003

$804.10 - that's what it's gonna cost to fix our van. The "service engine soon" light went on yesterday, so we took it into the local Firestone. They ran their little diagnostics and came up with over $500 in repairs that are needed.

I trust these guys at Firestone. They seem to be on the up and up, and haven't steered us wrong in the past. But still - $800 for a van we haven't had for 3 years yet.
France Seeks Big Role in Post-War Iraq

This is why everyone hates the French: They won't fight, but they want the spoils of war.

We should have annexed them as an American colony back when we chased the Nazis out in WWII.

March 25, 2003

Halliburton subsidiary wins Iraqi oil firefighting contract

Sure, this war isn't about the oil or Bush's and Cheney's ties to the oil industry.
In a world gone crazy, it good to see that sometimes people can still make the sane decision: NFL to scrap all-star officiating crews for playoffs

People have been calling for this for years. It only makes sense. A crew works all season together and learns how to function as a team. Why break 'em up when you get to your most important games?
Oh, its been a good lunch hour. Lots of funny stuff found. Like . . .

Are You a Loser Dictator?

The Scare Bear Index of Possible Hazards

The Soda Jerks
Much better. Got it fixed.
There seems to be some problem with the archive feature. I'm trying to figure it out.
Yahoo! News - Viewers Weigh Tuning in to Televised War

The article really isn't that interesting until you get to the very end, where it reads:

'Ray Jablonowski, 53, an engineer for the city of Pittsburgh, said he watches war coverage constantly, even taking naps with the television news in the background.

"People need to see the horrors of war," he said over lunch at a downtown food court. "This is not just a TV show." '

Unfortunately, Mr. Jablonowski, I get the feeling that many Americans have reacted to the first truely televised war as just another TV show. War with Iraq is the next natural progression from Survivor and The Bachelor. Its Ultimate Reality TV. The television networks sure seem to present it as such with all their snazzy graphics, music and programing specials.
Oh, and this is pretty funny too: Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974
This is fun: meshcap.com

A site dedicated to preserving the down-home originality of this classic piece of headwear. Its almost as funny as Mullets Galore

March 24, 2003

Just got back from running over to the bank to get some more dollar coins to pay for parking. It's a beautiful day here in Chicago and I enjoy the walk. Gets me out of the office for about 20 - 30 minutes - time to clear my head.

Anyway, the walk takes past a number of big Chicago landmarks (Chicago Board of Trade, Dirsken Federal Building), plus areas where the recent anti-war protest have rallied. Even though I shouldn't be, I was surprised at the number of police officers out in front of these locations. They were everywhere. And not just in the usual Chicago blue. They were in riot-tactical gear. Helmets in hands, shields stored in the vans that are strategically parked. It was a new experience to walk down the street and pass by 10 - 15 tough lookin' guys in black commando gear, all standing in front of Chicago Police cruisers and vans. Its like we are being occupied by a foreign military force. (Actually, when you read some of the provisions in the Patriot Act, maybe that's what my Ashcroft is going for)

Can't say if the more visible police force makes me feel safer or if it only served to remind me of the increasing violent and turbulent world we are living in.
How convenient . . . .

Yahoo! News - War Could Be Big Business for Halliburton

Vice President Cheney's former employeer could cash in big from a U.S. victory in Iraq.

March 23, 2003

I never make enteries from home on the weekends - usually isn't time. But right now Emma is sleeping, Ian's watching Power Rangers and Heather is out of the house. I'm getting some time to myself and making the most of it. Checked email. Read some news. Checked out the blog.

That's it. Nothing to report.

Its a nice day here today. Sunny - gonna be close to 60. Probably try and get outside and do some more work in the yard. I find it relaxing. One of the things I really enjoy doing. It provides a nice sense of accomplishment - spending all day planting new lilac bushes or trimming the bushes. Getting all sweaty and tired. It feels like real work, not the crap I do for CV. Plus, I can see the benefits of my endeavors. Beautiful lilacs in bloom; smooth, cool, green grass suitable for running through with bare feet; or a nice deck to sit down on and enjoy the scenery. I don't anything close to that from Apartments.com

March 21, 2003

When do kids start sleeing late in the morning? I remember never wanting to get out of bed in the morning - except for Saturday morning - in which case I was down in front of the TV at 6 or 7 am.

Ian's taken to waking up between 4:30 and 4:45 am. He wants to get out of bed, go downstairs, start the day. Heather and I are like, "Holy Crap, kid. Its frickin' 4:30 in the morning. Go back to sleep!" (We don't say that to him, of course. That would be mean. We try to kindly, and loving, coax him back to sleep. But then Emma starts making noise at 5:15 am.

Hell, my alarm isn't even suppose to go off until 5:30am - and in our household I used to be considered the early riser. This is getting ridiculous. Our entire household is up and going by 6am, when in my opinoin I should be the only one awake and the rest of them should be sleeping until 7, 6:30am at the earliest.

Heather and I aren't sure what to do. Ian won't tell us why he's waking up early. It appears something is bothering him, but he's not letting on what it is. And we're afraid to make a guess in fear of planting something new in Ian's head.

March 20, 2003

Yahoo! News - Wis. Man Eats His 19,000th Big Mac

I don't have anything particularly witty or sarcastic to say about this - just thought it was funny. The guy eats 2 Big Macs a day, and Coke. That's it.

He's 6 feet tall and weighs 180 punds. That's all.

The saddest part of this story is this:
Gorske said he wouldn't know what else to eat if it weren't for Big Macs. "I'd be clueless," he said, adding that he ate a piece of pizza recently, but it "just wasn't the same."

The man actually thinks that Big Macs are the pinnacle of the culinary art.
a-ha! it worked. now to make changes to the other parts of my site.
I've tried a new design for the blog. As soon as I get it working here, I'll be making changes to my website on Geocities.
Finally! I've been on pins and needles waiting for Heath's take on world events.

Yahoo! News - Actor Heath Ledger Slams Australian PM on Iraq

March 19, 2003

CAN A MOVIE HANDLE BOTH SCOTT BAIO AND COREY FELDMAN?

This is gonna be good . . .
Micah Ian Wright is an ex-Army Ranger and combat veteran. He also happens to be one of the new names in comic book writing. He writes a comic called StormWatch: Team Achilles that focuses on an elite team of marines whose job it is to monitor and possibly neutralize superheroes and/or villains. I don't read it, but it’s supposed to be fairly good.

Anyway, today I found Micah's website and stumbled into this little section: The Propaganda Remix Project

Micah's got some very distinct opinions concerning our current President, certain members of our government and the "War of Terror". He expresses these thoughts by taking old World War 2 US propaganda posters, photoshops out the original text, and puts in new text.

The results can be funny and controversial. While I'm not as vehement as Micah, I have to say I agree with many of the sentiments he expresses through his art. Check it out.
Got plans for my sorry little website and this blog. I'm currently playing around with a new design that will tie the two together. I'll probably still host the two separately - one of Geocities the other on Blogger. But at least the design will be consistent, creating the illusion of one site. I might even pony up the cash to get rid of the ads on the geocities site.

We'll see.

March 18, 2003

Brendan's Ideas to Improve the World:

IDEA # 97: god-vision

I want to be able to create an list of to-do items and interactive task list while watching Star Wars: Episode II - in full digital image and surround sound, with the option of stopping the movie and switch over to an active internet connection to take notes on a web-blog of some idea running through my head. And I want to do all this while standing in front of the kitchen sink doing the dishes.

I thinking of some of onscreen display in my glasses where, depending on where my eyes look, I see either a widescreen version of Obi-Wan and Jango Fett battling or my task list. By looking beyond both items I can see the dirty saucepan I'm cleaning. The interface for manipulating the task list (or any file), the movie, or television show, would be hard-wired (or possibly via a wireless connection) into my brain so that it’s only a matter of thinking of an action to make it happen.

I'd only have to think, "start movie" and it would begin. Think, "i've gotta clean the upstairs bathroom tomorrow", and its instantly added to my task list for things to do tomorrow. Using websites or files stored remotely on networked servers/applications would be as simple as thinking of accessing them. No reason I couldn’t access live television.

Best of all, I will be able to switch between movies, books, documents and whatever physical menial task I'm performing without a degradation of performance. I would be fully conscious of all tasks being performed. (e.g. I can cut the grass and read a book by Elmore Lenard with cutting off my foot or running over a kid)

Think of all the crap I could get done. I could read books or check out websites while walking from the train to work. Or catch up on last week's episode of Alias that was stored to my networked digital video recorded accessed via my "god-vision" while cleaning out the basement.

Ah. To dream.


Not only is W giving me a war I didn't ask for, now he might be taking away something I really look forward to: NCAA May Postpone Tourneys If War Starts

Between the final play of the Super Bowl and the beginning of NFL training camps, the only sport / sporting event I really look forward to is the NCAA men basketball tournament. Because of W's hard-on for getting back at Saddam for making his Dad look bad, I might not get that.

I know, I know - the possibility of American men and women dying is considerably more serious than who advances from the field of 64 to the Sweet 16. But I don't want all television to turn into The War with Iraq 24/7. We're all gonna need a break - and sports for many is the perfect breather.

March 17, 2003

you know my fuckin' neck still hurts. Its been a week and I still don't have full motion back. Don't get me wrong, I'm 99% better. But still it makes shaving a bit more difficult and I can still twist and feel some pain sometimes.

Of course, if I tell this to Heather she'll berate me for not properly resting my neck and allowing it to heal. But who has the time?

2003 is just not shaping up how I'd like it. Stress levels seem to be increasing across the board: at work, at home, everywhere. I've got more and more to do, less time to do it all in; which effectively gives me no time for relaxing or recharging. If I got some free time I could probably bring the stress levels down, but without feeling like I can afford the downtime - in light of the workload - the stress continues to mount. Its a near hopeless cycle.

I'll get through it though. Always do. Just put my head down and continue plowing forward. Life is continually in motion - its cyclical. I just happened to be at one of my bigger lows right now. Eventually the line will swing back up the other way and I'll be coasting again.

March 14, 2003

Mr. IsIs has got us so all hyped-upped with his micro-management and hyper-detailed review that we're starting to in-fight. Like I need that fuckn' stress.

Oh yeah, I love this job.

March 13, 2003

Yahoo! News - World Photos - Reuters

How do you have a rationale, intelligent discussion with a religion-driven culture like this? And if we start a war with a country that is part of this culture, how do we expect to win against this type of zealotry?

March 12, 2003

Yahoo! News - Plan to snoop on fliers takes intrusion to new heights

I hate to sound like some paranoid ACLU fiend, but the increasing frequency at which government agencies are justifying rifling through more and more personal data is starting to even worry me. Until recently I usually dismissed all the new proposed "security" measures that Herr Ashcroft and his Patriot Act outlined, because I know I'm not doing anything wrong.

But then I read quote from an early Supreme Court case that made me think. To paraphrase the quote, "We cannot assume that future governments will have the people's best interests in mind. That is why the Constitution has to remain as the supreme law of the land, and the rights outlined in it must be protected and preserved at all cost."
Yahoo! News - French Fries Get New Name in Congress

More proof that our current government is fostering the very dangerous, and potentially human rights violating, notion that if you are not with the U.S. on its stance towards Iraq, than you are an outsider and have no business being in America. It's the slow, and possibly deliberate, erosion of the right to express individual free thought.
Have you seen this in the paper - there are groups springing up on campus across the country dedicated to ending, what they call, "genital mutilation." These groups are opposed to the practice of "amputat(ing) health erogenous tissue."

There a bunch of guys, who for some reason, want their foreskins back.

Too much time, boys. You have too much time on your hands.

March 11, 2003

Yahoo! News - Poll: Britons See Bush as Bigger Threat Than Saddam

Well maybe the British are getting something right. I'm starting to lean this way myself. W's constantly thumping for war might actually be making the world a more dangerous place - not safer.
Yahoo! News - Thomas the Tank Engine Crashes Worry Kids?

According to the study, because the Thomas animated show depicts too many train crashes and may be making children frightened of going on a train.

This is ridiculous.
Finished reading Creature Tech by Doug TenNapel while laying in bed yesterday. (See, I strained a muscle in my shoulder/neck something fierce and ended up at home in bed trying to rest it up).

TenNapel has created a fasinating piece of comic fiction with this book. Read it as a straight sci-fi action thriller with a bit of the occult thrown in and the book is a blast. But, TenNapel writes so that the reader can dig deeper if they wish. Creature Tech also stands as a study of science versus religion, and its interesting where TenNapel (via main character Dr. Ong) comes on down on the topic. Religion/philosophy and giant space eels all in the same book - who'd a thunk it!

TenNapel is a hugely talented artist. There are so many great ideas, characters and relationships in this one novel that he could easily spend another 3 - 4 years exploring them all - and still create orginial, thoughtful entertainment. Even with all that packed into its 100-odd page, Creature Tech is laugh-out-loud funny at times. TenNapel's comedic timing (both written and visual) is impecable.

I'm going to be recommending this book to a few people and might even make it a gift for some others. So glad I picked this book up.

March 07, 2003

A couple months ago I checked my credit through one of the many companies offering this service. Of course, they put me on an email mailing list and I've received (and trashed) monthly "newsletters" from them since then. One arrived today and I actually read through it. Pretty standard "advitorial" crap.

Then I stumbled on something at the bottom. It's a quasi-Dear Abby type section. Supposedly where you can write in and ask for help dealing with issues surrounding your credit. This month's entry ran like this:


Dear Audrey,
Is there any way I can have a credit card and also be sure that my 15-year old will not have access? I have tried canceling accounts and opening new ones, he still manages to get the number and abuse it.

As a parent of a minor, I assume I am responsible for those charges. Since he's decided I'm the enemy I have little control over his actions or his honesty. How can I control the damages?

Chris R.

Dear Chris,
I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble with your teenage son. By law, he is not allowed to use your credit card unless your account specifically gives him permission. You are correct in assuming that you will be responsible for the charges he incurs on your account.

There are a few solutions that could limit his access to your credit.
Perhaps you could keep your credit card locked away at work and out of reach? Another option is to write "See ID" on the back of the card so that a cashier will be required to ask for the card-user's identification.

Although there are ways to limit your son's access to your credit,
I think the real answer is to talk to your teen and hold him accountable for any charges he makes on your account. I know it can be difficult to talk with or discipline a teenager, but sometimes tough love is the best plan. I hope you will be able to find a solution to your problem very soon.


Oh my god! Enough of tough love and locking up you credit cards. How about reporting you son's activity to the police or shipping him off to some Ecuadorian behavior modification boot camp. I can't believe the marketing department decided to run (create?) this letter and response. This isn't a request for help with credit; it is the last dying plea of a mother who has lost all control of her child.
Finished the biography of Benjamin Franklin by Edmund Morgan yesterday. Can't remember ever reading a biography before, so I really can't comment on how well this one is written. I've been reading fiction for so long that it was very difficult to change gears with this book. Eventually I made the switch and got into the flow of the work.

I already admired the man; the events chronicled in the biography only heightened my appreciation of Franklin's contributions to America and the larger world community. The man truly was ahead of his time: a visionary, a statesman, a scientist, and an inventor - where most people will struggle to be just one of those. Truly remarkable.

You know Franklin correctly determined that exposure to lead was a health risk way back in the 1770's? But the dangers of lead wasn't fully accepted by the general publuc for another 200 years?

He's another intereting fact. Franklin worked tireless to keep the Colonies in the British Empire all they way up to 1775. Independence wasn't his goal. Franklin wanted the British government to treat the colonies as equals within the Empire. Being a British-American citizen was something he treasured. He believed (correctly) that the oportunities in America were endless, considering the vast amount of land available and near limitless resources, and that for the Great Britian to survive it needed America as part of its Empire. It was only when it became painfully clear to Franklin that Parliment and those in power in England were too closed minded to the potential power of America that he resigned himself to working for American Independence.

March 06, 2003

A-HA! Finally.
I don't know if Blogger is ever going to load the changes I've made to the template that creates this page. Rather frustrating.

March 05, 2003

Public prayer fanatics borrow page from enemy's script

Interesting commentary by movie critic Roger Ebert -- and it has nothing to do with movies. He defines and explores briefly the difference between horizontal and vertical pray, and how horizontal prayer has become even more popular under the W. Bush regime.

Horizontal prayer plays to the intimidation that those in vocal-majority minority use against those with dissenting beliefs.

Yahoo! News - Lawyer Arrested for Wearing a 'Peace' T-Shirt

More proof of the "If you're anti-Iraqi War, then you're Anti-America" mentality that seems to have gripped this country. Though the fact that this mob mentality has dominated much of the US debate on how to deal with Iraq, it doesn't surprise me. For years now the an overall mentality has taken root in American society that if you do not subscribe to the majority way of thinking, or what at least what is portrayed as the majority thought, then you are wrong / evil / racist / homophobic / sexist.

Independent thought and the right to express these thoughts are slowly being taken away. Not by force or by law, but by peer pressure. Who has the time or energy (or let alone the money) to argue with the flag-waving zealots, screaming fanatics or touchy-feely extremists who will brand you a close-minded Neanderthal or communist bastard if you express an idea contrary to their stance?

I just want to live my life. Not fight constantly against a sea of quasi-popular opinion.

March 04, 2003

Yahoo! News - Singer's Breast Implants Heat Reform Debate

Go to the story and take a look at the picture. I'll wait.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Okay. If those are the best breasts the state funded German Health Insurance can buy, then if I were German I'd be pissed too. Come on. Those can't be much more than an A-cup! If you're putting up the greenbacks for bigger hooters, than at least go for a healthy B, or maybe a buxom C.

Talk about a national disgrace.
Okay the first time I tried to update the template to include the link to Ed's site, didn't seem to take. I'm trying again with a full publish to my blog.
Added a link to Ed Stenger's website to my little list of links in the right-hand column. Ed's a friend from back from my days in Cleveland working for Educational Structures. Probably the most fun I've ever had working for a company. We were all fresh out of college (or at least some-what fresh), it was the dawning of the web as a commercial entity, and we were working on building a company that created educational content delivered across the web to elementary and high schools across the country.

It was like working at a frat house. We worked. We drank. We worked. We played euchre. We drank. We worked. We made prank phone calls. And the company actually grew despite all this. Of course there was the time that the owner of the company pulled the managers (which I was one of) into the conference room and asked us if we could go without our paychecks for one or two pay-periods so that he could make payroll for the rest of the company. But that only happened once – or was it twice? An of course there was the time I was asked to “disappear” for the weekend with a car full of company files in an attempt to deflect a hostile takeover by an unscrupulous venture capitalist. But that I know only happened once.

Of course it all came crashing down when in pinch to secure more capital, the owner sold the company to a large corporation - NCS. They promptly started in on a course of events that essentially un-did in 3 years what we had built up 5 and alienated everyone who had ever worked on the Educational Structures product. It was really sad. I was proud of the work that I did there and enjoyed the people I worked with.

Any way. Ed was one of our tech support/programmers/admins/kung-fu gurus. A really nice guy. He's got a simple, but effective website. I'd like to make some time to recast my website along the same lines. I should make the time to do this.

March 03, 2003

20th Century Fox's big-screen live-action/CGI adaptation of "Garfield"

This is just so sad. I don't think I even have to make a joke.
To help cut costs and also deter a disgusting trend, my employeer announced today that when a toliet backs up in the restrooms, the offending employee will have the maintenance costs deducted from their paycheck.

To facilitate the policing of this new policy, we'll have to use our security card that grants us entry into the building to get into a stall.

This is bull shit. First the raise the price of pop in the vending machines from $0.35 to $0.40, and now this.